Her Life Speaks
I was shocked when a woman once said to me, “I never pray for myself because it’s selfish”. Imagine never praying for yourself. Ever. Wow, what a miss. When I ask women, “How can I pray for you, or are there any prayer requests?” they will usually give me prayer requests for a neighbor, friend, sister, daughter or even their pet, (which are all fine btw). We are nurturers, aren’t we? Often putting others before yourself. I’d like to pitch the idea that praying for ourselves is self-care.
My son-in-love recently asked me who my favorite unassuming character in the Bible
was and I replied, “Jabez”. Jabez is only mentioned 3 times in the Bible; once as a town
and the other as a person. In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 Jabez prays for himself: “Jabez
prayed to God, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with
me in all that I do and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his
request.” Jabez knew he needed God. He needed God’s protection, blessing and his
Jabez prayed for himself and God granted his requests. All three of them!
I wonder what it is that holds us back from praying for ourselves. For this woman it was
selfishness. Could it be because we don’t think of it as self-care? Or necessary? Or
unworthiness? Could we believe the lie that our sin is too big and ugly that we can’t ask
God for anything for ourselves? I don’t find any of these reasons in the Bible. I do
however, know that the Villain will do everything in his power to separate us from God,
especially in prayer.
God invites us into prayer with him, Matthew 6:33. We can ask him for anything for
ourselves; love, protection, provision, healing, comfort, peace, a job, child, husband, a
car, direction, joy... anything. We take care of “us” when we pray for ourselves. Praying
for ourselves is empowering because we are taking matters into our own hands by
bringing it to the Decision Maker, himself. Prayer for ourselves changes things. It makes
us better, the best we can be when it’s with God.
Questions to contemplate:
Founder of Her Life Speaks
Growing up I was independent, inventive, and competitive. These may sound like equipping traits to have and, in my case, they were necessary to be in the game and show face. I grew a “hard shell” on the outside stemming from what was on the inside; hurt, shame, abuse, abandonment and isolation. I didn’t want anyone or need anyone, a lie I believed. So my “I’m okay” attitude morphed into my pride of autonomy.
I was disconnected and didn’t make myself vulnerable to ask for what I wanted or
needed. I endured the pain of emptiness and unworthiness by not having solutions,
resources, tools or a mentor. My pride got in the way of reaching out for help, wise
counsel, and God.
It takes a lot of work to wear a hard shell camouflaged as a cry for help.
As we rounded the corner of the one year anniversary in a pandemic and legitimate
isolation, I’ve spent a lot of time reading my Bible. I’m thankful for this time as God
showed me many Truths that suddenly saturated my soul and heart like never before
and encouraged me in my journey of healing and restoration from lies I believed.
These truths are:
I’ve known these truths well but it’s been in this season that strongholds of disbelief are
breaking. When I let go of my pride and choose to believe and not default to my old way
of thinking, I feel the Holy Spirit moving. There’s a gentle easy feeling. A comfort that
just lets me default to God. And believe Him.
Questions for contemplation:
By Liz Rodriguez
Global Outreach Coordinator | Her Life Speaks
I was living in the USA on a medical visa, but my desire to attend college would require me to change my status to a student visa. Changing a visa status would also mean I would need to go back to the Dominican. This was a risk.
Immediately upon arriving in the Dominican, I set up an appointment with a well-known Dominican lawyer. She advised me that I did not have the financial status needed and this was when God was about to teach me to walk by faith. He gently reminded me that He has a plan for my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:1
I felt led to start a Bible study with my neighbor. I had never done this before, but I began teaching my neighbor about Abraham. God began teaching both of us to trust Him.
My next step was to apply for a student visa at the embassy. I walked in nervous, but hopeful. My heart sank when the official denied my request...a door had closed. I had a deadline of a few weeks to receive this visa or I would lose my chance.
I cried out to God to show me what to do. He directed me to continue the Bible study and talk to my neighbor about Abraham‘s faith walk. I clung to God and asked Him to direct my steps.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Meanwhile in the USA, my lawyer and American Mom gathered documents and asked the church to pray. I returned to the embassy with a renewed hope. Due to traffic delays and an accident, I arrived late to my appointment. In frustration I was crying, but God reminded me through my mother to trust Him and to surrender everything to Him.
As I waited, I was shaking and noticed that the same officer that denied me was there to interview me. I asked God to lead me. Moments before it was my turn, there was a change in officers. The new officer called my name, and in five minutes, my student visa was approved!
With one day left before the deadline, I flew to the USA to pursue my dream. God had provided a way, where there seemed to be no way.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
God has a plan for us and He will guide us even when we face trials. Surrendering to Him and His timing grows our faith even amidst trials.
If I had gotten my visa right away, I would not have led the Bible study with my neighbor nor would I have seen the power of prayer, but most of all I would not have grown in faith as I did.
What do you do when trials come your way? Do you run towards God? Or away from Him? Do you trust His plans?
By April Sliwak
Can we just say… ahhhhh…. GOOD-BYE 2020.
I think we can all agree that 2020 was the most unusual year we’ve ever had, at least in my lifetime. It was a year of loss, disappointment, and anger. But I’d like to be honest and tell you that on top of all the events and emotions that took place in the world, some of us, including myself, were dealing with added pain of grieving someone close to you. This kind of suffering was new to me and something I’ve never experienced before. Grief is hard.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18
It was a year ago that my father passed away. By God’s grace, we just had a beautiful weekend together doing some of his favorite things; playing cards, eating good food, and telling stories. That evening God called him home. It was shocking and heartbreaking yet as a believer, I felt peaceful. In hindsight, I was so thankful the Lord gave us that last weekend together. Then on a turn of events, (a calendar page), the year 2020 was upon us with all of its uncertainties and loss.
My grief grew and it was all around me. It followed me like a shadow, it was enhanced with every new worldly news event and with the void of family and friends. I didn’t see my mom on Easter, which was hard because it was the first time without my father and without my mother. A family wedding was postponed, family traditions were broken like gathering for Thanksgiving and birthdays. My friends who are so important to me, still haven’t been together in our usual ways. Grief, loss, pain, anger, brokenheartedness, tears. Anybody? Then one day out of the blue in November, my daughter texted me:
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
It still brings me to tears as I write this. That was it for me. I snapped out of it and remembered that everything we see through our broken eyes and flesh, is temporary. All of it. I’m passing through this season in history. It doesn’t make the grief less real, just less painful because my hope is in my citizenship in heaven; my permanent home, my everlasting home, without pain and suffering, with my dad, and with Jesus.
How about you? Believer, knowing that our time here is temporary how does this help you to have peace going forward in 2021?
If you want to become a follower of Christ, simply ask the Savior to come into your life, admitting you are a sinner, asking for forgiveness and do your best to turn from your sin. Jesus will live in your heart and you will be a citizen with Him in heaven forever.
I’d love to hear your comments on grief, loss and hope. God loves you.
By Susanne Ciancio
God solved a problem for me in a very roundabout way during the pandemic. My story in a nutshell is that I’ve found something that has truly brought about change at a transformational level for clients, friends and ultimately for myself! He hasn’t wasted one bit of this time of quarantine and He is always pursuing us with His Grace and Truth. Transformation is a big Bible principle and the subject of many Sunday morning sermons. The good news of the Gospel is that it’s not just for Sundays and Bible studies. God has come near and brought all of His benefits and resources for anyone and everyone.
In my search for strategies, exercises and meditations to support clients’ clinical work for stress and anxiety I happened upon something rather spectacular! A client with PTSD shared an app she uses to relax and de-stress. Of course, I had to check it out before I passed it on. It turned out to be the answer to something I’ve been praying about since 2018. But it exceeded what I had been seeking The Lord about. (More about my story later.)
The App my client told me about is called The One Minute Pause. It’s free, simple and easy which is spectacular in itself...but the best part is the cumulative effects. It keeps working even when you’re not working it! The app is based on a new book by John Eldredge called, “Get Your Life Back.” During the time of the pandemic so many are desiring to get their old lives back. Understandable! But this app is not about getting your old life back This is more like getting the life you always wanted.... which is the life God planned for you. There are inspirational excerpts from the book included in the app along with 4 “pauses” ranging from 1-10 minutes. There’s beautiful music and Eldredge himself instructing us to give everything and everyone to Jesus. His voice and the language are very calming and peaceful. They make one recommendation: set an alarm so that twice daily you receive an alert on your phone to remind you it’s time for The Pause.
The beauty of the app and why I’m distinguishing it from other similar apps is because of the aftereffects! As I intentionally engage with the right hemisphere of my brain during The Pause, I simultaneously disengage with my left brain effortlessly. The left brain is my enquiring mind that wants to know...information, facts, doctrine but it can also lead me down needless rabbit holes of fear, anxiety and worry. Christian psychiatrist Curt Thompson says in his book, The Anatomy of the Soul, that we sense who God is in our right brains. The right hemisphere experiences life viscerally, creates images...senses things like who God is and how He feels about us. Our right brains are designed to then send messages over to the left brain to “make sense of what we sense.” *
When I begin to understand my hardwiring, I can tend to my soul like a wise and loving gardener tends to his garden. As I choose what I’ll focus on (and in turn what not to focus on) changes are made on the cellular level. Structural changes are made in our very DNA as we release pressures and anxieties to the Lord. **
Why does this app work so well? What’s the secret? Could it be that the discipline and direction the app provides causes us to slow down and when we slow down, we find ourselves on Gods’ frequency? And that frequency is always rest! *** There are many “calm” apps and they’re probably all effective to some degree. What’s different about this app is the spiritual foundations. It’s the language of the Bible and abiding and union with The Lord.
The One Minute Pause had and is still having an impact on me personally. After several months of doing The Pause at least twice a day I started noticing character changes in me. Stress would arise and I would be much quicker to release it. I’d be more mindful, less reactive, able to connect with “the heart Jesus gave me.” **** Doing the pause was a delight and very uplifting! But the changes I saw in myself were more internal—it felt like the sheer joy of transformation! And I wasn’t even trying! I was just enjoying the music and language of The Pause.
The initial answer to prayer I received was being able to come back in the evening to the same restful state in which I started out my mornings. I would be reminded by the alert on my phone or iPad at 7:00 or 8:00 PM to do a pause and sometimes my husband would join in. This was new for me and a victory. That was a long-standing goal I had for myself, but I never was intentional about setting any times or disciplines to achieve this. Consequently, I had no results prior to The Pause.
Is there an area of your life that you would really like a victory? Have you tried and tried? How about substituting training and practicing for all that trying? Prayerfully, you just may discover as I did that the most important spiritual tool we have is releasing or surrendering! It does require consistency...Just a word of caution, don’t try this at home! TRAIN! It takes as little as a 1-3 minutes a day. Do you have a couple of minutes a day? I pray you’ll take the challenge. What have you got to lose? Some anxiety or fear? Some weight? Some irritability? Trauma? Or stuck-ness? The cumulative download you receive from practicing will be worth it! 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Colossians 1:26-27 the mystery that has been hidden throughout all the ages.... Christ in you, the hope of Glory. (Paraphrased)
We have a lifetime guarantee!
Happy Pausing! Let me know if there’s an area in your life you’re thinking The Pause may help with. Please leave a comment below.
*Restoring the Soul podcast featuring John Michael Cusick LPC with Dr. Curt Thompson, M.D.
**Curt Thompson, M.D., The Anatomy of the Soul.
***Bob Hamp, “Think Differently Learn Differently” from Think Differently Academy (see website TDACAD.com)
**** “Living from the heart Jesus gave me” is a term Dallas Willard used in his writings and lectures
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.